The Boston Bruins aren’t a team known for drafting and developing Russian-born players, especially in recent years. The last Russian-born player to play for the Bruins was back in the 2015-16 season when Alexander Khokhlachev played a measly five games (Anton Khudobin was born in Khazakstan, thus, not counting on this list).
The Bruins seem more inclined to draft and sign Central European players from countries such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia. With Russian talent running rampant throughout the league ever since the first arrivals of Russians in the 1980s, it leaves a question as to why there isn’t any Russian talent on the Bruins. However, the Bruins have harboured some superb Russian talent in their storied past. Here’s a brief look at the three best Russian-born players to play for the Big-Bad-Bruins.
This 1997 first-round draft pick had a notable career from 1997 to 2011, where he played 888 games and put up 571 points. The Russian left winger played his best years with the Bruins early on in his career, with his season-high total coming in the 2000-01 season, where he would amass 29 goals and 75 points in a full 82 games. The Moscow-born winger had to rely on his ability to find the back of the net in his career, with him coming in at an underwhelming 5-foot-8 inches.
Samsonov had no problem finding and creating opportunities towards the net, with the Russian sniper having six 40-plus point seasons out of his eight seasons spent in Boston. Samsonov was a playoff veteran, with him playing 76 games and putting up 18 goals and 47 points in that span. His most notable playoff run was with the Oilers in 2005-06 when Samsonov and his teammates went to the Stanley Cup Final, where the Oilers would lose in Game 7. The Russian would then have brief stints in Carolina, Florida, Montreal, and Chicago. However, after reaching his career-high season point total on the Bruins and spending eight great seasons with them, there is no doubt the Russian goal-scorer is a Bruin at heart.
The most notable player on this list, Gonchar was drafted 14th overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. The now 46-year-old had an illustrious career that spanned 20 seasons across six teams. The Bruins acquired Gonchar near the trade deadline in the 2003-04 season. The Russian didn’t spend much time with the Bruins, having only played a total of 15 regular season games, where the Chelyabinsk-born defenseman would tally an impressive four goals and nine points. That year, the Bruins would make the playoffs, where the left-shot defenseman would get a goal and five points in seven games. Although he left the following summer, his impact was still felt on the team while he was present.
Gonchar is a legend of the game and the one of best Russian defensemen to ever grace the ice. He leads Russian defensemen in points and is ninth in all-time points amongst Russians, with an exemplary 220 goals and 811 points in 1301 NHL games. Few players ever get to see 1000 games. He not only saw the ice in 1301 of them, but he was a true competitor throughout his whole career. The offensive-defenseman won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2008-09, completing the missing piece of his career at the ripe age of 35. Although he wasn’t a Bruins’ legend, he is definitely one of the best to ever rock the black and gold uniform.
If James Bond was a hockey player, it would be Dmitri Kvartalnov. The mysterious Russian winger seemingly came out of nowhere when he spent his first season in North America with the San Diego Gulls, where he’d amass 60 goals and 118 points in 77 games. The 1992-93 season would be his NHL rookie season at the age of 26, where he’d play 73 games and compile 30 goals and 72 points for the Bruins. Kvartalnov can thank Adam Oates for supplying a handful of assists since the Russian’s rookie season was simultaneously Oates’ career-high point total season with 97 assists and 142 points. The next season in 1993-94, Kvartalnov would play 39 games for the Bruins, potting 12 goals and 19 points before being sent down to the Providence Bruins.
However, as quickly as he emerged onto the North American ice hockey scene, he left. After a short three years in North America and two seasons with the Bruins, the Russian mystery-man left for Europe. The Voskresensk-born forward would spend the rest of his career making stops in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Finland. Kvartalnov left behind a legacy with his brilliant rookie season, leaving Bruins’ fans everywhere wondering what could’ve been if he stayed.
Russian Talent All-Over The League
Although the Bruins haven’t had many Russian-born players come through their team, this article shows that they still had Russian talent at certain points in their history. Russian players have had a profound impact all around the league and made the NHL what it is today. Russian players have made the overall experience of the NHL more entertaining, exciting, and diverse. There’s no way the NHL would be what it is today without Russian stars like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Ilya Kovalchuk, just to name a few. Who’s your favourite Russian NHL player of all time?